Peter Mayhew, the man who was Chewbacca, is dead at 74. He died in his Texas home surrounded by his family, reads Thursday’s tweet from his official account. Mayhew was, in many ways, the heart and soul of the Star Wars universe, both onscreen and off.
The 7 foot 3 actor was unknown, and working as a radiologist, when he was cast as Chewbacca in 1977, mainly, at the time, because of his extraordinary height. This proved to be one of George Lucas’ greatest casting decisions.
Not only did Mayhew play the role with aplomb in five separate Star Wars films; he also threw his soul into a galaxy far, far, away and was unendingly kind to its inhabitants. Mayhew will be remembered by Star Wars fans for his generosity, kindness, and good humor.
When he was not playing Chewbacca, he often spent his time on the Star Wars convention circuit, building relationships with his fans and sharing our investment in the Star Wars universe. He was a hero to many of us.
In addition to acting as a charming ambassador to the planet Kashyyyk, Mayhew was a great proponent of philanthropic causes, a lifelong interest that culminated in his founding of the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which survives him, along with his wife, Angie, and their children.
His many friends will mourn him, and his numerous fans will mourn the loss of a personality that brought us together, without fail, and will continue to do so as long as the Rebels fight for the freedom of the galaxy.